There is nothing better than an entire profession that has the ability to mock itself. Although many people in the entertainment industry don’t have any sort of a sense of humor, there are a few diamonds out there that do. These are the people who are willing to look the ridiculous right in the face and say, “Do you want to be in my next movie?” How do I know these people exist? A little thing called “movies.”
“Swimming with Sharks” is a great example of this phenomenon. This is the story of the relationship between an assistant and his ridiculously menacing boss. Kevin Spacey plays a studio executive with too much power and no feelings. He humiliates his assistant every chance he gets, including telling him that he is worthless because he brought Equal packets instead of Sweet ‘n’ Low for a cup of coffee.
The story is based on the writer/director’s actual experiences in the film business. So, not only is it hard to watch the awful behavior on screen, you can remember that these humiliating things actually happened in real life. It’s like the SNL skit with David Spade where he plays the awful personal assistant who won’t even let God in to see Patrick Swayze. That particular skit arose out of an actual incident in which Mr. Swayze was unreachable even though he was actually in the room reading People magazine while Spade asked to talk to him.
“The Muse” is another great example of a film that shows how far people who make movies will go to keep their jobs in this cutthroat business. Albert Brooks plays a screenwriter who is about to lose his job and needs a good script to save it. He enlists the help of a Muse, played by Sharon Stone.
The job of this alleged Muse is to inspire at a considerable cost. In order to access her services Brooks must pony up for a $1,500 a night hotel room for her to live in – and be at her beck and call at all hours. The idea that someone would be so desperate to stay in the movie business to pay thousands of dollars to keep this mystical creature happy is the beauty of filmmaking. People in most parts of the movie business will do just about anything to have a hit movie. Including letting Sharon Stone be in it.
In “The Player,” Tim Robbins plays a studio executive who is being blackmailed by a writer whose script he rejected, but he can’t figure out who the writer is. His problem is that people walk into his office giving movie ideas. Here we begin to learn about how ideas are told to executives “in 25 words or less.” Almost always, the ideas are based on previous films and multitudes of combinations of films. The films that are released into theaters each week represent pieces of every popular movie that has already been made. Robbins’ character has a great line that sums up the film business. “I was just thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process. If we could just get rid of these actors and directors, maybe we’ve got something here.” People who make movies want money and the people who try to say otherwise are completely full of shit. It is not an artistic process on the whole; rather it is a way for people to make a fortune because they think that the public wants to see anything with a dancing monkey. So, keep that in mind on your next visit to the video store.